We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Though we have had to deal with familial illnesses, financial stretching, and the occasional hiccup of life that throws us all out of kilter, 2016 will end as yet another year on the freeway. We have grown spiritually and emotionally, and we continue to bask in the blessings of the Almighty.
Perhaps it’s the ever-looming reality that, dependent upon where the oldest lands after college graduation, Thanksgiving as a family of five is no longer a given. Maybe it’s the fact that two of our three are now away most of the time. Or it might be that my husband’s managing elderly parent-related circumstances has me feeling “some kind of way” during this Thanksgiving. In any case, I want, more than ever, to keep it simple, and to redeem the time–with no agenda, few “have to’s,” and a wealth of space to just be.
It’s a season of liberation–from traditional foods, that is. One of the best Thanksgivings we ever had was the one in which we stopped buying the obligatory turkey and began to enjoy foods that we actually like. For presentation’s purposes, I continued to buy a de-boned chicken with dressing (it looks enough like a turkey, right?), and surround it with greens, sweet potato and green bean casseroles, and cranberry sauce. But this year, I was free to enjoy a favorite winter treat (even though it is in the 80’s here) without guilt or remorse:
My heart was to prepare for each of the kids a dish that they particularly enjoy. For the youngest–our newest vegetarian–that meant totally abandoning tradition and going with a vegan empanada.
We will continue to enjoy some traditions. There’s the parade, there’s football, and there is that childhood favorite of mine:
Sweet potato pie.
And of course, we are proud of our home-grown greens.
By the way, here is an interesting fact about collard greeens, African-Americans, and Thanksgiving:
“The collard greens were just one of a few select vegetables that African Americans were allowed to grow and harvest for themselves and their families throughout times of enslavement, and so over the years cooked greens developed into a traditional food,” according to the LATIBAH Collard Green Museum in Charlotte, N.C . “Even after the Africans were emancipated in the late 1800s, their love of greens continued and they kept handing down their well-developed repertoire of greens recipes from one generation to the next.”
With all the myriad of activities around me, I look most forward to simply hanging out with the family. We were once that family–involved in everything and going everywhere. What it left me as much as anything was exhaustion, and a genuine curiosity as to how I missed an entire holiday season, though I felt busy.
Well, I must be off. Cooking the traditional parts of our meal–greens and macaroni and cheese, awaits. So does the NFL. Most of all, so does time with the family.
How are you enjoying your holidays?